Match Point

A Film by Woody Allen




Nola Rice: Has anyone told you [...] you play an aggressive game?

Chris Wilton: Has anyone told you […] you have very sensual lips?

Nola Rice: A very aggressive game.


Chris Wilton: Do you feel guilty?

Nola Rice: Do you? [They kiss]


Chris Wilton: Sophocles said, “To never have been born may be the greatest boon of all.”





The common sense of both criticism and the public says that Woody Allen’s Match Point is heavily influenced by Dostoyevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment, obviously because Chris Wilton reads it in the very beginning of the film. Additionally, W. Somerset Maugham’s 1939 story “The Facts of Life” is also frequently mentioned as one of the sources for the film, as its story is about a young tennis player and the importance of luck.



But what is lacking to the foreign audiences and critics – and, sometimes, to some Brazilians as well – it is to learn about the influences of Machado de Assis’ Dom Casmurro in the argument of the film. And even in the Machadian novel, it is possible to realizes the phenomenon of intertextuality, being Othello the most expressive example, as Bentinho may be perfectly associated to the Moor (because of his jealousy, of course), Capitu to Desdemona (due to the suspects of treason) and José Dias to Iago (for the obscurity of his conscience).


Another striking feature can be seen both in Woody Allen’s film and Machado de Assis’ novel: the most inattentive and less critical could perfectly see or read both stories as mere love and jealousy fables, not considering any other ideological content or formal discussion. And, in the specific case of Match Point, with an extra pinch about the role that luck plays in determining everyone’s destiny.


Concerning the formal discussion, we have clear, in both Bentinho or in Chris Wilton, the powers of the narrative focus influencing readers and spectators, as a sole point of view constitutes the structural element present in both narratives, emphasizing the perspective through which the story is told.


Therefore, our narrator-character tells the story through his own perspective, telling it from a fixed point of view: yours. We do not even know what the other characters think as Chris Wilton just narrates the events as he notices or remembers them. And even if his narrative is without any word, he is replaced in this duty by the camera, as in a long sequence in which he commits the double homicide. Wilton’s power of seduction is so strong that, even watching the facts, some spectators will certainly justify his unjustifiable perversity.


Obviously, the script distances itself from any more subtle nuances of the Machadian text, as the not said but suggested Bentinho’s insanity, a weak and poorly constructed being and an explicit feature of our poor social formation. All such symptoms may be, thus, summarized in this strange character whose homosexuality is not totally sublimated but transferred to a paranoid solution.


Moreover, the “male” elements of Capitu and the presence of interests linked to the paternalistic organization and its imminent crisis, as cited by Roberto Schwarz (“Duas Meninas”) in reference to John Gledson (p.11), as well as the signs of a crisis in the bourgeois civilization (p.13), is only partially represented in Woody Allen’s film.


However, Allen’s and Machado’s text keep their similarities like the clear and lucid desires of Capitu and Nola, morally downgraded by insinuations about their petty and disguised character (p.17). Despite being internally emancipated from the paternalistic submission, externally they have to deal with this same submission, which composes their environment (p.25). Capitu and Nola reveal daring ideas and they are ambitious, calculative and enemies of their future mothers-in-law (p.26). They are also shown sometimes as objects of erotic interest, sometimes as carriers of depreciative characteristics from female psychology (p.27).


With regard to Benedict and Chris, both become heads of wealthy families, representative members of the order (p.29) and, after becoming husbands and owners, they abandon their previous characteristics of holding weak and unskilled hearts in order to be able to command and to give orders (p .33). They became, thus, gentlemen who do not diverge from the European model of civility (p. 36). Finally, the most obvious similarity: Bentinho kills Capitu, and Chris kills Nola, albeit by different motivations.


Notwithstanding all this, some doubts still remain: in Nola’s case, is Chris the actual father of the expected baby or Escobar-Tom Hewitt? After all, are Capitu and Nola traitors or wronged? We live in times of violence trivialization or the fact that the audience eventually minimize the double murdering and Chris’ ill-nature would be only reflect of his ability to tell a story well, according to his on your point of view?


Moreover, is he a citizen with a promising future, a well-succeeded professional and good head of family whose “small” faults deserve being disregarded? What is the role of luck in human life? Allen makes a parallel with the tennis match: the ball hits the net, and if it falls to our side it means that we have lost. But if it moves to the opponent side, it means that we have won.


Simple choice or coincidence? Destiny or fate? Chance, circumstances or mere effect of cause? Is it simply a matter of point of view? Taking apart any consideration about the power that persuasion has, Match Point reveals to be a freak creation with a nihilistic message. Not even remotely an entertaining moral fable created with the aim of discussing the emptiness of principles in our modern times, where the crime pays if you can deal with guilty.


Watch now some videos available on the web

as well as the film's official trailer: